In a video released on Wednesday, researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) showed off their new creation picking up a variety of items, including an apple, a rubber duck, and a wine bottle.
The robot resembles a bright orange flower, which can grasp the objects by folding inwards. In their accompanying paper, the researchers described the robot as an "origami magic-ball" coated with a flexible thin membrane.
Here's the robot in action:
An advantage of the soft robot is that it can pick up irregularly shaped and delicate objects.
"By combining this foldable skeleton with the soft exterior, we get the best of both worlds," lead researcher Daniela Rus told the Verge. "I'm excited about using such a robot hand to start grasping groceries."
The field of so-called "soft robotics" has been gaining traction in recent years, the idea being that more flexible robots will be able to complete more delicate tasks than their rigid counterparts.
Some of the more high-profile soft robotics creations draw inspiration from the animal kingdom, resembling squishy tentacles. Facebook last year started hiring PhD students to develop its own soft robotics.
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